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LABOURS IN THE GOSPEL,
Late of the City of Dublin, deceased,
Compiled from his original Manuscripts, by his brother
A NEW EDITION.
By the Editor.
IN reviewing the papers my late brother left behind him, I met with the manuscripts from whence the following compilation is extracted, but rather in a loose and undigested state; being only a rough copy of what he seemed to have a design to digest, and, probably, to continue further, if his life had been prolonged: yet even in this unfinished state, finding them to contain much useful matter, many pertinent, judicious, and instructive reflcctions, worthy of, and, as I imagined, designed for, a more general service than to lie locked up in in a scrutoire, or be confined to his own private family; I willingly devoted a portion of my leisure time, to the revising, collating, and digesting thereof. And I find no reason to repent of my labour, or think this portion of my time mispent, having received much satisfaction and profitable impression therefrom, as I hope the candid reader will also, in the serious and unprejudiced perufal thereof.
Of literary subjects, history hath been ranked amongst the most improving and interesting: and, I think, it may be allowed this rank of precedence, so far as it leads by illustrious or pious examples, to virtue or good conduct in life; or by a detection of vicious characters, exposeth the deformity of vice, and the ill consequences thereof, as lessons of caution, against the evils we are to avoid.
Yet the general scope of history, being mostly relative to the actions of the great and powerful, unfolding the violent, or the crafty measures, whereby worldly power hath been acquired; and the policy whereby it is supported and maintained; doth not in general abound with patterns for the private man to form himself by; and too seldom exhibits such, as the good man could copy after, without departing from his character.
Every man cannot rise to conspicuous stations in life, or attain the abilities requisite to fill them with reputation to himself, and advantage to the community: but every man may attain to (that which is infinitely beyond them) the favour of his creator, by yielding obedience to his revealed will, and his divine commands. It is not every man's business to copy the Statesman, the Hero, or the Philosopher ; but it is every man's most interesting
concern, to live so in this world, as to obtain everlasting happiness in the next.
That history therefore or biography, which defcribes the lives of such, as have steadily directed their course thro’this world to a better, in the right line of piety towards God, and goodness of heart and life among men, seems in an especial manner to claim our serious, and attentive perusal ; particularly where tbefe good men themselves, from a view of being still helpful, and serviceable to mankind, when they shall be no more among them in this state of mutability, leave behind them lively monuments of their experience of the work of fanctification, and saving grace in them: reciting not only the actions and occurrences of their lives; but the internal motives of those actions, and the effect of those occurrences on the state of their minds: unfolding the gradual operation of the grace of God, for their redemption from evil, and shewing forth the fruits of the spirit, out of a good conversation: herein leaving the evident prints of their footsteps to lasting felicity, for their survivors to trace the path to the like glorious inheritance.
Of this kind of Biography we have had several tracts published in our society, divers of which having perused with much fatisfaction and advantage,